Governors suspend debate on constitution amendment

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has deferred its debate on the ongoing constitutional amendment until the end of Ramadan fasting period.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who is the Chairman of the forum, made this known at the forum’s meeting which ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

Reading the communiqué of the four-hour meeting to newsmen in Abuja, Mr. Amaechi said that the forum would continue the debate when Muslims return from the lesser Hajj.

Mr. Amaechi said  the Forum also resolved to intensify its efforts to eradicate polio from the country.

It would be recalled that the northern governors, ahead of the review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly, opposed the creation of state police and the inclusion of the six geo-political zones in the constitution.

The governors also demanded the abrogation of the offshore/onshore dichotomy and the derivation principle which allows oil-producing states to retain 13 per cent of the total revenue derived from exploration of mineral resources.

The position of the governors is to set the tone of debate on these contentious issues by members of the National Assembly during the constitutional amendment process.

The Northern Governors’ Forum had hinted that it would communicate its position on these issues to lawmakers from the North to serve as a guide during the review process.

The position of the 19 northern governors came on the heels of a call by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum who said that the 36 governors agreed that state police was long overdue.

On the polio eradication, the NGF has been collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate the polio scourge from the country.

The NGF in 2009 signed the Abuja Declaration on Polio Eradication to reduce the disease, if not completely eradicated it from the country.

The Abuja declaration was a public declaration of zero tolerance for polio and a pledge to mobilise states and local governments to achieve vaccination coverage target of 90 per cent.

Beside resources committed, Bill Clinton and his wife, Melinda, had visited Nigeria for an on-the-spot-assessment of progress made so far.

The Foundation had said that Nigeria was one of the four countries in the world where polio was still endemic with India, Afghanistan and Pakistan trailing behind.

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